Most Promising Initiative
This category recognizes initiatives launched in the last three years that are using new and exciting methods, creative program design, or are showing promise by taking an innovative approach to apply proven strategies that will create a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for their community. The initiatives also should address a specific need in a community or region identified as an obstacle to economic growth with an emphasis on innovative or creative design or implementation.
Applicants should address one specific tech-based economic development initiative (such as an effort to increase access to risk capital, build entrepreneurial capacity, commercialize research, etc.) rather than a comprehensive effort.
Creating a Better Future by Supporting & Converting Research
This category recognizes initiatives that create a better future by supporting the science and technology research capacity of an institution and/or converting research into technologies and products with high commercial potential. Initiatives appropriate for this award category may include, but are not limited to: commercialization programs; centers of excellence programs; industry-driven research partnerships; initiatives to expand research facilities; eminent scholar recruitment efforts; or, technology transfer activities.
Creating a Better Future through Entrepreneurship & Capital
This category recognizes initiatives that encourage and support entrepreneurship and/or enhance the ability of companies to access startup capital that will cultivate a community of entrepreneurs and help transform their ideas into a high-growth business. Initiatives recognized under this award can include, but are not limited to: enriching the skills and abilities of entrepreneurs; providing capital during the critical stages of capital formation; increasing the capacity of entrepreneurs to successfully start and grow companies; or, improving the environment for entrepreneurial development.
Creating a Better Future through Competitive Industries
This category recognizes initiatives that improve the competitiveness of a region’s industries. Approaches may include, but are not limited to: expanding the innovation capacity of existing companies or industries; helping industries develop new leading-edge products or services; infusing innovation into business operations; or, cultivating an innovation ecosystem of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions.
Creating a Better Future through Economic Opportunity
This category recognizes initiatives that create a better future by providing services and other support to help unleash the economic potential of people and places or that build a 21st-century workforce to meet the needs of local companies. This category recognizes initiatives that include, but are not limited to: supporting the inclusion of underrepresented groups in the innovation economy; preparing a STEM-educated workforce; or, connecting workers with the training and/or education necessary to address the needs of key regional industries.